A fast finishing Western Jets line-up collected their second win of the season, defeating the Eastern Ranges by 32-points on Saturday
Matt Balmer looks in depth at one of their important midfield cogs.
Xavier O’Halloran is one of a handful of players on the 2018 Western Jets list that is well and truly capable of finding himself an AFL home at the end of the season. As a bottom-ager for the Jets last season, O’Halloran averaged 18.8 disposals (53% contested possession percentage), 3.8 clearances and 3.5 tackles.
Having been named captain of the Jets for season 2018, O’Halloran has begun his season with some strong patches of form, including the opening game of the season at RAMS Arena – where he collected 22 disposals, 10 inside 50s and had eight clearances. The strong bodied inside midfielder stands at 186cm and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty, winning the contested ball and tackling hard to win it back. Alongside fellow midfielders Connor Thar and Zak Butters – the damaging trio have the potential to break a game open and are very tough opponents for any TAC Cup opposition midfields.
Quarter by quarter:
Despite starting at every centre bounce in the opening half of the game, it was a quiet start from O’Halloran. There was plenty of attention from opposition players at stoppages, who had no doubt been instructed to watch out for the dangerous #33 and attempt to curb his influence around the ground. He did show his strength, winning a contested ball, taking a bounce but was never able to dispose of the ball effectively inside 50 in the second quarter.
After half-time, O’Halloran really lifted – with eight disposals for the quarter. He immediately was in the action with a quick short sharp handball out of the centre bounce. He used his long kicks to effectiveness, with a superb mark on the wing – which saw him quickly play on and spot a target at centre half forward.
A very strong contested mark 40 metres from goal was one of his standout involvements of the game, unfortunately missing the set shot on goal. The powerful inside midfielder, worked hard and won the ball around the ground, getting it inside 50 on multiple occasions – even if they were often just thrown on the boot to gain distance.
Despite coming off the bench in the sixth minute of the final quarter, O’Halloran had an immediate impact with another mark 40m out and his shot on goal was a repeat to the third quarter, missing the shot. A snapping kick on goal resulted in a mark right on the goal line by Aaron Clarke. The Western Jets skipper showed a calm head, when he collected a handball receive, steadied himself and took a shot on goal from a few steps with sailed through the big sticks.
Centre bounce attendances:
Quarter 1: three
Quarter 2: two
Quarter 3: two
Quarter 4: four
With just two goals apiece to three-quarter time, O’Halloran attended every centre bounce leading into the final quarter. It was a surprise to see him not start in at the centre bounce with the game on the line in the final term, but after coming off the interchange bench after six minutes, O’Halloran attended four out of the next five centre bounces for the contest. His clearance work is very good, especially around the ground – where he had 11 clearances all up in the opening two games of the 2018 TAC Cup season. As a bottom-ager for the Jets, O’Halloran averaged just under four clearances per game.
20 disposals (10 contested)
7 handball receives
4 inside 50s
Where Xavier fits in in draft calculations remains a mystery, this early in the season – but if he can continue to show off his contested ball winning abilities for Western Jets and then through to the Division One National Under 18 Championships for Vic Metro – he is certainly a name who could hear his name called out later in the season.